A word from Todd: Greetings on this Maundy Thursday. We are very blessed to have the Rev. Dr. Newell Williams as the writer for our final Lenten Devotional this semester! As many of you know, Newell has been President and Professor of Modern and American Church History of Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University since 2003. He is the author of many books, essays, and journal articles, so he is no stranger to the written word. His insight, genuine warmth, compassion, and obvious love for God not only make him an obvious choice to write a devotional, it’s those same qualities that also make him an effective President, professor, and minister. I hope you’ll both learn from and be challenged by his words for us today. Have a holy and blessed weekend…Todd
March 28, 2013 By: Rev. Dr. Newell Williams
John 13:8. Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
The Thursday of Holy Week is sometimes referred to as Maundy Thursday. Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy is derived from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novumdo vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you”). Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus’ giving to his disciples the commandment that we love one another as he has loved us.
Jesus gave this commandment to his disciples after having washed their feet. To wash another’s feet was an act of hospitality in a culture where people traveled by foot on hot and dusty roads wearing not the latest running shoes, but open sandals. Though foot washing was not unusual, it was usually performed by servants. Jesus explained to his disciples that he had washed their feet as an example of how they should act toward one another.
The dialog between Peter and Jesus in John 13:8 points to the heart of how God transforms us through relationship with Jesus Christ. Peter could not bear the thought that Jesus would wash his feet. Jesus’ response, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me,” was another way of saying, unless I love you, you cannot love as I have loved you. In the text that follows, the writer of John’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus loved Peter even though he knew that Peter would betray him.
Gracious God, on this Maundy Thursday may we perceive anew that Jesus loves us even though we betray him. By the Spirit that we receive as we learn of you through him, may we, his disciples, come to love one another as he has loved us. Amen.